No Logo, No Ceasar…

No Logo, No Ceasar…

Ceasar Salad

One of the most refreshing aspects of living and working in Montenegro is that the country has not been overrun by international corporations and brands. There are no Starbucks Coffee shops ensuring you get the same latte here that you find back at home; there are no fast food chains that guarantee you will get the same super sized meal here that you would find back at home in anywhere USA or Canada; retail chains like Walmart, Costco, Home Depot, The Body Shop, Tim Hortons, Boots Drug Stores and so on are non-existent here.

Organic, local, family retailers and national brands are more the vibe here. Finding things you need often becomes a bit of a hunt, but that is half the fun.

Sometimes though, I get a ping for something familiar, so when I saw Ceasar Salad on a restaurant menu a while back, I had to have it, but I was left disappointed as it was not at all what I was expecting, or I should say, craving. Unfortunately for me, as I subsequently explored this menu item around the country, I realized that only the name was familiar. All of the ingredients you think you are going to find in a traditional Ceasar Salad are, here, open to very wide interpretation… from basic (yet fresh and lovely) vegetable platters to chopped up green leaf lettuce with a soupy mayonnaise dressing topped with a couple large pieces of bacon.

Boiled or Roasted Kid?

Today I had a quick, but lovely, lunch outside by the water here in the Bay of Kotor. With the exception of “spaghetti bolognese” and a couple of other items, the Montenegrin menu was difficult to decipher. Yes, I know. I should be farther ahead than I am today. The kind and attentive server, aware of the selection challenge I was having, brought me the English menu. I ordered a dish which I knew had chicken in it, but I was not sure what else was coming. It ended up being a delicious spicy pasta dish with chicken and vegitables. Perfectly wonderful. I am just glad that I did not select from the Appetyre section of the menu… chewy and bitter come to mind!

I thought you might enjoy a couple of the other menu items I came across recently. How about Roast or Boiled Kid?

Ever been puzzled about what do to on your next holiday?

 Each day in this amazing life experience I am reminded of how quickly this little nation on the Balkan peninsula has been launched into 21st century Europe and the Anglo-Saxon dominated world. I greatly respect how they are catching up so quickly. Little signs like these are great, and slightly comic, reminders of the great diversity of the world we live in and how important it is to respect that diversity.

365 days and Counting!

When I first started this journal it was called “365 Days of Culture Shock – a New Life in a New Country”. Well, the original title seems out of date now. We have been in Montenegro since August of 2009 so the 365 days have come and gone. The “new” country is now in its 5th year, and growing up quickly. In November it became the first Balkan state in that many years to become an official European Union candidate.

Tatler Travel Guide

The change in the last year and a half has been amazing to watch. There is a brand new round-about at one of the busiest intersections on the coast; communist apartments have been painted bright new colors and given a new lease on life; new bars and restaurants have opened and there are more on their way. While I still cannot buy soy milk at the biggest supermarket, the other day I found lactose-free milk, so you know more selection is coming soon. You can quite literally see the market opening up one baby step at a time.
The evolution of Porto Montenegro set the pace of the changes in the country. When we arrived, the project had 85 berths which it was giving away for free for the first season and we were selling some off plan apartments. Today, we have created the new Porto Montenegro Yacht Club, a Sports Club for crew, built a fuel bunkering facility and become an official port of entry, so you just pull up to the marina in your boat and clear customs on the jetties. This summer we will be opening our 65 meter over-water Lido Mar pool and our maritime museum as well as handing over the next 45 apartments in two buildings. In the fall another 9 will be available. This means that by the end of the year we will have almost 80 waterfront properties finished with 20 retail stores and services on the pedestrian walks. The reassuring part is that most of the apartments are already sold and the commercial spaces leased out! Now we also have 200 berths open to paying customers. You should join Montenegro Yachting on Facebook to see all the latest events and photos from in and around the marina.
The first month of the new year has flow by with the team out and about at the London and Dusseldorf Boat Shows. Stay tuned for more chronicles of life at Porto Montenegro!

Superyachts to Meandering Cows

Recently I went on a business trip to London. It was for the World Superyacht Awards at Guild Hall in the City. It had been a few months since I was in there and I enjoyed the busy, vibrant international capital. The heat wave made it exceptional. The evening was like the Academy Awards for yachts; red carpet, black tie, 500 attendees, and numerous categories from Best New Designer to Best Superyacht over 35 meters.

Predator on Jetty One

We all flew home on British Airways into Dubrovnik Airport. It was such a contrast to the Heathrow which seems to be a city unto itself. There were no tunnels, trains, moving walkways, busses and thousands of people coming and going to all ends of the earth. Just a landing strip and a simple modern terminal.

What as fantastic about landing in Dubrovnik this time was the fact that it felt like coming home. The temperature was in the mid 20s and after a short walk on the tarmac, you picked up your luggage and you were outside at the car. Everything was so simple.

What was a real “coming home” moment though was arriving at the border crossing between Montenegro and Croatia. There amongst the white police Land Rovers, customs guards and passing travellers was a big cow strolling through the activity as if she was perfectly undisturbed by the official nature of her surroundings.

To my list of road friendly dogs and cats I must now add cows. It Just like the first night I arrived here in Montenegro last August. The taxi driver was zipping through the mountain roads down to the coast and a cow standing in the middle of the road in the dark came into the headlights. It really did feel like I had come full circle with a cow at each end. I guess that culture shock can last less than a year… thus the change to the name of my blog.

As for my other furry friends around the house, you will be pleased to know that they are all well. Jessie had her babies and is now back to her road routine; completely ambivalent to the cars zooming past her. From the cat gang, Smoke had a baby and Pieter called her Soot, but we have not seen her around for a few days.

Our project is progress well. There are 500 workers on the site and the first homeowners take possession next month. Amazing how time flies. Last August there was barely a hole in the ground!

First Impression Montenegro: Instant Coffee, Cigarettes and Ink Jet Printers

First Impression Montenegro: Instant Coffee, Cigarettes and Ink Jet Printers

Welcome to Montenegro

Municipality of Kotor

You are probably wondering why I decided on such an odd name for this first entry.

It came to me the day that had to go to City Hall in the old town of Kotor as part of the process in getting my work permit.

In order to get a work permit here you must supply the appropriate authorities, along with a host of other documents, numerous copies of your rental lease and an original copy of the land title for the apartment or house you are renting.

Kotor from the water

Photograph by Colin Kingsmill

Instant coffee, cigarettes and ink jet printers provide the perfect visual for the experience of getting the original land title to the apartment we are renting. It all started with the first visit to the main lobby of city hall where I picked up the two payment slips that had to be taken to the Post Office around the corner where payment was to be executed and receipts given to me to prove payment. In order to pick up an original copy of the land title you must prove that you have payed the two invoices totaling 8 euros and 6 centimes.

“Instant coffee, cigarettes and ink jet printers provide the perfect visual for the experience of getting the original land title to the apartment we are renting.”

Once I paid the prescribed amount (with cash, because no matter how big the bill, you have to bring cash to the post office to pay anything. They do not accept debit cards there) I ventured back to city hall where I needed to now make my way to the land title office located in the attic. The elevator did not appear to be making it to the main floor anytime soon, so I took the stairs.

Steps to our first apartment in Kotor.

After waiting outside the wrong office for a half an hour with my colleague who was translating along the way all morning, we were told to make our way to another office. The person that used to issue land title certificates no longer did that task. It has to be mentioned here that the entire staff of city hall had been replaced just a few weeks earlier. I never understood why this had happened, but in a country emerging from a past tainted with pockets of corruption, I had my suspicions.

When we opened the door to the correct office, the lonely worker told us that it was not Tuesday. Apparently, that is the only day that she dealt with the general public. We were told to go to the other office at the end of the hallway.

Once there we were greeted with slightly more hospitality by a couple of ladies each having a cup of instant coffee, smoking cigarettes and sitting behind their desks. Once we gave them the receipts for the document we were supposed to get, we were asked to leave the room while it was being printed on an old ink jet printer.

After two hours that reliable old printer sputtered out the document I needed to get that morning. With the appropriate rubber stamps we were on our way. The only thing that was missing was carbon paper, but that would come another day!


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